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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

January 18th, 2017, 4:01 pm #1071

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Depending on how precise you want to be, this could be set in the "Batman Animated Series" continuity. They character designs are like updated versions of that. Then with the standard Batman and Joker voices of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hammill, respectively. Early on, it's stated that Batgirl has been working with Batman for three years...so it could fit.

The first 1/3 of the movie is more than a little weird. They wanted to work in the 1988 one-shot "Batgirl #1" which featured Barbara Gordon retiring from crimefighting. It became sort of a prequel to "The Killing Joke" which was released a few months later.

Anyways, what's in this movie is (I guess) an updated version of that. A gangster develops a crush on Batgirl... which leads to Batgirl and Batman having sex on a rooftop. Um... okay? What's even weirder is that almost instantly, this opening 1/3 is brushed away, the gangster disappears, and what happened has no real bearing of the remaining 2/3. We jump right into a direct adaptation of "The Killing Joke", almost scene-by-scene. Maybe they were trying to make a stronger connection between Batman and Batgirl? Whatever the reason, it's strange. The whole thing feels shoe-horned in.

If you like "The Killing Joke" graphic novel (yes, it's an actual GRAPHIC NOVEL, since it was an exclusive story made specifically for the expanded format; not a collection of consecutive issues), then you'll probably like the remaining 2/3. I actually hope that they release 2nd, 3rd and 18th pressings of the Blu-Ray discs, all with different colored lettering (if you collected comics in the late 80's, that's hilarious...I think).

The Joker's attack on Barbara Gordon is straight from the book. If you're not familiar with the DC characters, you'd probably be on the "Joker raped her" side of the argument. There's an added scene, exclusive to the movie, with hookers that adds some meat to that theory. I don't subscribe to it, since I always thought Joker was into the whole obscenity and shock aspects. He took pictures of Barbara undressed, bleeding and near death, to mess with Commissioner Gordon and Batman. That's insane. That's Joker.

Hammill seems a tad restrained in his Joker voice. He's nuts, but only to about 8 on a 10 point scale. I kept waiting for one unrestrained cackle, but it didn't seem to arrive. His voice acting in the various video games has used that unrestrained level. Maybe he's simply getting old?
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

February 9th, 2017, 6:07 pm #1072

Concussion
Due to my personal medical history, this really scared the hell out of me. More than any horror or suspense thriller. While this depicts a coroner trying to prove brain damage from football-related concussions (CTE), it also becomes something of how immigrants aren't exactly equal. Nigerian Bennet Omalu (Will Smith working fairly well with an accent) is sorta' ostracized, at first, because he simply doesn't understand football. Or else he's a "voodoo doctor".

This also leads to some of the sports hero-worshipping mentality, especially in Pittsburgh. Folks really admired Mike Webster (myself included, as he was one of my idols, growing up) and didn't want to know that football ruined his brain and he had such an ugly ending to his life. When his body shows up at the coroner's office, the employees all wear their "Stillers" gear. It kinda' tarnishes the luster knowing that the center on THE greatest NFL team of all-time beat his head to pudding. I mean, we all LOVE football...how can it be so terrible? Lot of controversy, here.

The Steelers and the NFL are portrayed as deceitful scumbags. They almost seem like the mafia in the way they can cover things up. Roger Goodell also gets a douchebag treatment. While non-Steelers Dave Duerson and Andre Waters cycle into the plot, you have to pay attention to know that they're not Steelers. This movie makes it seem like the Steelers have a policy that all players (offensive linemen especially) are mandated to have concussions and CTE. Justin Strzelczyk and Terry Long are singled out. Webster himself actually played for the Chiefs for a few years, but you wouldn't know it from this movie. So to a non-football fan, it seems like the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise is the breeding ground for CTE.

Maybe the director was a Browns fan?

Joking and Hollywood melodrama aside, CTE is a very real and dangerous condition. In some ways the modern NFL's "concussion protocol" is lip service to public backlash and equivalent to brushing your teeth after a cavity is discovered. As long as we have hard-ass plastic helmets smacking into each other at full speed, someone's head is going to suck.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

February 9th, 2017, 6:23 pm #1073

Leviathan (2014)
Russian film about a home owner getting squeezed out of his property by the Mayor. While it's a critical darling, it moves verrrrry slowly and I feel it may have gotten a little bit of a pass because it IS Russian. Watching foreign films always makes us feel smart! Right?!

If you ever want to film a post-apocalyptic movie, go to (north) Russia. The backdrop of this movie is very bleak and shows the hellhole that is Russia. A dog-eared framed picture of Vladimir Putin, slightly crooked and hanging by itself in the middle of an office wall is somewhat telling. One minor character even takes framed pictures of former Russian leaders out for target practice.

There are some parallels to real life court cases (US, no less) and even the story of Job. Yet this is a disturbing movie with an ending as depressing as the landscape it's filmed in. Unless you're a film nut and want to feel "smart", I do not recommend this.
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Erick Von Erich
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February 13th, 2017, 4:02 pm #1074

Judge Dredd (1995)
If you want a random futuristic cop movie starring Sylvester Stallone, then you're okay. But if you want a Judge Dredd movie, you're in the wrong place. I've said it before: Dredd would make a great cartoon, but a sub-par live action movie. The primary reason is that some of Dredd's irony, social satire and commentary is SO over the top, that it's more believable as a cartoon.

Biggest problem with this flick is that it doesn't let Dredd do the typical "street judge" stuff that he was known for. For the first 15 minutes, it's kinda' established... but then it jumps into a lame trial sequence, which kinda' dilutes the whole "judge" system and concept. The hook of the street judges is that you are IMMEDIATELY judged...so why all this crap about an actual trial? Oh, he's also "Emo Dredd" as he learns about his feelings and even develops a romantic relationship with Judge Hershey (Diane Lane, looking like Sandra Bullock from "Demolition Man").

Oh, and it's been beaten to death, but Dredd only has his helmet on for about 10 minutes, total. The 2014 "Dredd" was a bit closer to the look and feel of Dredd's world, but the plot then saddled itself with some video game nonsense (I probably have a capsule review of it, about 4 pages back...I think).

One little thing that I only mention for myself, is that the movie's "ABC Warrior" was billed as "Hammerstein" in the credits. Never knew that's who he was supposed to be.

I was never a huge Dredd fan, but I was into him for about a year in 1986 to 1987. Big bro even got me an actual British copy of "2000 AD" when he was over there. Notable, because it was basically newsprint and made me think: "don't buy actual British comics; but the US reprints". Dredd comics are fun; especially the mid-80's "progs"; but if you read four or five, you've pretty much read 'em all and have the vibe.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

March 7th, 2017, 6:27 pm #1075

The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Was a little surprised that this got so much acclaim. We went in thinking it was the series that won an Academy award, but THAT honor actually went to "OJ: Made in America", a documentary done by ESPN.

Still, this FX series got some acclaim, but I don't think it was justified. For one, the acting's kinda' cheesy and names are dropped at weird times. Like, "Hello. I'm Detective Mark Fuhrmann, LAPD". Feels unnatural. The Kardashian family is written-in as sort of a concession to viewers. David Schwimmer and John Travolta both have big parts and look n' act like cartoon characters. OJ is played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. doing his best impression of "Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock". Add in the constant panning or spinning camera angles and I'm annoyed.

It was more like the old Sunday night made-for-TV "movies" done by the big networks. Felt hoodwinked and would've rather watched 6 or 8 "episodes" of the actual documentary than this Hollywood cash-in.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

March 14th, 2017, 9:26 pm #1076

Daylight's End
Another dime-a-dozen "zombie flick". Like a combo of "28 Days Later", "Road Warrior", "Walking Dead" and even "Assault on Precinct 13". So it treads VERY familiar ground. It could very be set in the "28 Days Universe", as all the monsters run at full speed (and some even seem to know parkour). Creative dialogue, too. Like: "Hey, asshole!" Blam-blam-blam!

Loner in a COOL CAR finds a group of people who are being assaulted by monsters. He offers to help in exchange for gas and ammo. They all leave in a school bus. Lance Henrisken is around, because why not?

One thing I did like was the setting: Texas. When I was traveling through west/central Texas a few months ago, I thought: "damn, be easy to film a post-apocalyptic movie, out here. The old abandoned town set has already been built. Multiple times"!

The main guy is an actor named "Johnny Strong", whom I had never heard of before. I mention him because he's all over the credits and even sings the closing song... which sounds like someone who REALLY wants to be Chris Cornell.


Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words
Film, home video and TV appearances of Zappa; going in chronological order. Includes his first appearance on the Steve Allen Show, where he plays a bike. I was hoping for a glimpse of a young Steve Vai, but he wasn't included. There was more than enough to keep me entertained.

Good thing is, this doesn't focus on his music so much as his character. I'm not a fan of his music, but old Zappa soundbytes are always welcome. His comments are not only funny and sarcastic, but insightful at times. It's like he was always angling to say something that would make you go: "I never thought of it, THAT way". Were he alive, today, you can bet Zappa would be spouting off commentary about how much the world sucks, right now.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

May 25th, 2017, 11:03 pm #1077

Mascots (2016)
A Netflix exclusive from Christopher Guest that's in the same mold as "A Mighty Wind", "Best in Show" and "Waiting for Guffman". A buncha' quirky people from around the world all converge on a big conference. This time it's a competition of sports mascots.

This is more like "Waiting for Guffman", which is probably the weakest of Guest's efforts. He has his usual familiar faces, like Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr, Jane Lynch, Parker Posey and "Stifler's Mom".

Like all of Guest's mockumentaries, the best jokes are from deadpan deliveries and situations. While it's fun, this definitely feels like you've seen it, before. Several scenes just seem like they're included to pad things out to 90 minutes. I watched it about a week ago and I'm having trouble remembering any wacky quotes or stuff.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

June 2nd, 2017, 2:37 pm #1078

Want a fun read for about an hour? Re-read this entire thread from the start!

Some incredibly random stuff in here. The first 30 or so pages have a lot of references to the "Scary Movie" and "Saw" franchises. Plus a lot of talk about how cool it was to buy DVDs. Who buys those things, nowadays?

But I do kinda' hate the posts that are just: "I watched these two movies: ___X____and ___Y___" with NO Other comment. At least provide one sentence about if you liked it, or some takeaway.

Takes me back, too. The 2005-2009 period for me; while full of lots of self-indulgent viewing; was pretty sad and lonely. Daily concerns were just: "what will I eat and watch, tonight"?

*snif* I miss DK and his horror stuff. Haven't watched a good horror movie in a long time.
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Erick Von Erich
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June 5th, 2017, 5:58 pm #1079

Wonder Woman (2017)
Hadn't planned to see it, but we did, on Friday night. Short and sweet: it's the best of the modern DC movies. No real cutesy continuity issues to muck things up. Wonder Woman's "origin" isn't really a classic (and not very well known), so this modern spin on things works very well. I think any liberties taken with her "origin" are fine. It has the elements you'd expect: Amazons, Themyscira, Steve Trevor, etc. Very solid, self-contained, superhero movie.

I'm still curious why it was set in World War I, instead of II-- I'm guessing because the comparisons to "Captain America" would've been too obvious in WWII. This is very much DC's Cap, as she's not treated as a joke and carries the whole movie. Wonder Woman's a little bit like Conan meets Cap, in fact.

War Dogs (2016)
Jonah Hill and Some Other Guy as douchebags who get involved in the US military gun-market, circa 2005-2008. Billed as a "comedy", it really isn't. They were shooting for some of the vibe of "Wolf of Wall Street", but it didn't work. As a movie, it's slightly below average, but the "true story" it's based on is pretty interesting.

Still have an hour to go on X-Men: Apocalypse. My opinion so far: you REALLY need a scorecard when you watch these things. Too many damn mutants. Really wish they would've focused on a cast of 5 or 6 X-men, across all the movies.

Little odd that Alex Summers hasn't aged in the supposed 20 years since we saw him in "X-Men: First Class". Ditto for Pietro/Quicksilver, who hasn't aged in the supposed 10 years. I still like Michael Fessbender as Magneto, though.

The 80's references are hella' cheesy. Flock of Seagulls, Eurthymics, Ms. Pac-Man, etc. There's also a fanboy scene as some X-men go to see "Return of the Jedi" and remark: "the third one is always the worst". A shot to "X-Men 3"...but this is also the THIRD movie of the rebooted X-men franchise, so there ya' go.

Like I said, still have about an hour to go, but so far it's been VERY predictable.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

June 22nd, 2017, 5:10 pm #1080

So...Hulu's Handmaid's Tale. Really liked all 10 episodes. They're all available, now, so it's a good time to indulge in Hulu's free 7-day trial (sorry for the plug...I get paid nothing for that).

I understand why it's been called "politically charged and timely", but considering the book was written in the Reagan Era, it's somewhat of a stretch. To me, at least. I mean, yes, you can relate it to the paranoia and unease going on today...but you can also relate other dystopian speculative fiction works. Soylent Green, for instance. I've read some reviews slamming the show as pro-liberal propaganda, but it's not.

Some of the themes, like "you don't own my pussy" can be considered contemporary. Where the show really shines, though, is the backstory. They give hints of how things got so messed up, and of the world outside of "Gillead". A few scenes mention that established city names, like "Boston", have been changed. So it's not beating you over the head with a non-stop feminist message.

The main character's estranged husband doesn't really have any traditional heroic qualities. He can't load a gun and is like the average wishy-washy "everything's chill" guy. In most situations, the severity of what's going on doesn't really hit him until late in the game. He's trying to smuggle his family out of the country and is a little perplexed why he can't take a backpack full of goodies with him-- like you'd do on a typical picnic or hike. Another character joins up with the new government, simply because he can't find a job. Elements like these make the far-fetched nature of the show seem realistic.
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